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Power trio

Juno hosts find strength in numbers as they band together to present awards show

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Ordinary Juno broadcasts have only one host. In Winnipeg, there are three -- singer-songwriter Serena Ryder, rapper Classified and country singer Johnny Reid.

This trio of Canadian performers has 35 Juno nominations among them. They're more than familiar with the event -- but they've never had to actually carry the darn thing before.

Here's what each member of the Juno troika is doing at the MTS Centre on Sunday night -- and how they plan to prepare:

 

CLASSIFIED

Home base: Halifax

Nominations (two): Rap Recording of the Year for Classified and Single of the Year for Inner Ninja.

On co-hosting the Junos: "At first, they didn't tell me this was a co-host thing. I was like, 'What are you talking about? I'm not even ready for this,' " Luke (Classified) Boyd said over the phone late last week, being the very model of Canadian self-deprecation.

"My brother was like, 'I don't think you're famous enough to do it,' and I kind of felt the same way. But there are three of us doing it."

His role: He's opening the show with co-host Serena Ryder, mashing up each other's material. He's also introducing award presenters.

Classified will barely get a chance to rehearse, as he doesn't fly into Winnipeg until the night before the broadcast. He opens up for Hedley Saturday night in Ottawa.

"I'll fly in Saturday night and find out what I'm doing on Sunday. I'm excited because it's my first-ever private jet," he said.

Isn't that scary?: Not really. As a rapper, Boyd is used to improvisation and figures he'll make up his lines on the fly. "That's what I'm hoping. They asked if I needed to see all my scripts. I'd rather just get them day of, rather than over-think it or play the role of superstar co-host actor."

What's the best part of the Junos?: "This might be a little bit of a selfish thing, but the Junos are a cool time," he says. "Artists are always on tour. You never get to connect. The Junos are the one weekend where everybody gets together. It's a lot of catching up."

SERENA RYDER

Home base: Toronto

Nominations (five): Album of the Year for Harmony, Single of the Year for What I Wouldn't Do, Artist of the Year, Fan Choice and Songwriter of the Year for Stompa and When You Know.

On co-hosting the Junos: "I feel uncomfortable most of the time at red carpets or black-tie events. And then all of a sudden I'm amongst these superstars -- it feels like almost unreachable famous people, you know?" she told Nick Patch of The Canadian Press.

"And then on the other hand it's like, wow, what a huge, amazing honour. I feel so proud because this is what I've always wanted my whole life, when I was sitting in front of the television watching MuchMusic and watching Star Search... or when I'm at home playing my Arcade Fire records in Toronto and dancing around my room.

"It's a total trip and I'm so grateful. It's such a huge deal."

Her role: Performing the medley with Classified and introducing presenters.

Will that be hard?: Likely not as difficult as a recent performance of O Canada at the NBA all-star game, apparently.

"When I was walking out to sing, all the all-stars were lined up on the podiums. And they were heckling me!" she told The Canadian Press.

"I really felt like I was in high school, walking down the hallway right by the jocks who were super-popular and they were all commenting on my gothic outfit -- which they actually did; I was a goth in public school. And I got made fun of all the time."

 

JOHNNY REID

Home base: Nashville. Born in Scotland, he was raised in Brampton, Ont., and also lived in Lennoxville, Que.

Nomination: Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for A Christmas Gift For You.

On co-hosting the Junos: "I was very humbled, needless to say. Being part of the biggest night in Canadian music is a wonderful thing, let alone being asked to host it," he said over the phone earlier this week. "I've never hosted an evening the magnitude of the Junos."

His role: "My job's pretty easy. I just have to stand up there and introduce some people," he says. "I only hope for two things: I can see what I'm supposed to be saying and people can understand what I say."

About that Glaswegian accent: Reid, who may be the nicest man in Nashville, is actually impressed with Mike Myers' version of Scottish brogue in the Shrek movies.

"I've met Mike a few different times and we've actually spoken about it. I think his accent is wonderful," he says. "The Mel Gibson accent (in Braveheart) was the one a lot of people found hard to take."

As for Winnipeg: He arrives today -- which gives him a big preparatory lead on Classified. "As soon as I land, we go straight into rehearsal," he says. "I'm excited just to get in there and take a deep breath."

 

-- with files from The Canadian Press

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 28, 2014 A16

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